Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Black People in Highland Park, White People in South Dallas

"I ain't never been to Highland Park. That's like the 'Beverly Hills' of Dallas, right?"

My neighbor said this, and I was immediately taken aback.

"You've never been to Highland Park? Really?"

Then I thought about it: Of course he hasn't. He's a poor black man from South Dallas. How many people in Highland Park have ever been to South Dallas?

Another black friend of mine who was bouncing couch to couch with relatives was blessed enough to find a more permanent place from a generous family in Highland Park. We joked about how as soon as he enters HP, he makes sure he sits up straight in his car, pauses a long time at each stop sign, signals at every turn, and waves and smiles to all of the police officers. We joke, but we also have a strange sense of a stinging truth.

Even for some of my friends who are financially well-off, certain areas are avoided because of perceived increased scrutiny.

We can argue about whether it is economics or racism. Obviously it's an economic thing. But how long will the economically disadvantaged have darker skin? And, since we know darker skin does not equal poor, how do we explain race away for the financially secure? I have friends who remind me that the war against racism is over. But it's not yet Juneteenth in a lot of white and black people's hearts.

We are called to something better than what we have now. As my friend at Central Dallas Ministries, Jenny Fogel, tweeted, "I think if we don't have friends--real, go to each other's houses friends--of different races, we're missing part of what God intends 4 us." This idea is truly scary to a lot of people. I know there is a large economic divide that must also be crossed, but you can't run a marathon without taking the first step.

As I think of a way to close another disjointed, meandering blog entry, I can't help but wish things were more simple in the game of life. But that's not what life is about. Again, a tweet of profound wisdom from Jenny:

Wouldn't it all be simpler if we were all the same race?
And wouldn't that simplicity rob us of so much beauty and opportunity.

In this ugly world, we have so much opportunity to make things beautiful. It's not easy, but it is better.


  1. My comment about this post was a simple one. If you come to Orlando, I will take you on a tour of the most starkly contrasted racial divide I have ever seen. In one of the most affluent communities in the country, Winter Park, FL, you literally and simply have to walk across the railroad tracks and the universe changes. In one step you are walking by The Pottery Barn and multi-million dollar homes, and the next step you arrive in our version of South Dallas. It's stunning.

  2. I like the post. We should grab a burger at Wingfields sometime.